08 May 2016

I ♥ Kobe

When people talk about the Kansai region in Japan, they often praise the historic charm of Kyoto, the dazzling city lights of Osaka, and the adorable (and sacred) deer of Nara. All of which certainly deserve the appreciation they receive. However, for me, Kobe stands out as a real gem of the region. Perhaps it doesn't have the same jaw-dropping sights as some of these other places: but I promise that if you give it a chance, you will quickly experience the joy of Kobe!

I visited Kobe a couple of times during my stay in the Kansai region, and I will write another post with the details of the places I visited on those days. For now, I'd just like to list a few of the reasons why I  ♥  Kobe!

The Mountains
Kobe has an enviable location, between the foot of the Rokko Mountain range and the sea. The mountains offer many kilometres of hiking trail, as well as a couple of interesting destinations, including Nunobiki Falls and Nunobiki Herb Gardens. I love being able to escape the city easily, and so its proximity to the mountains, where you can enjoy nature, fresh air, and an incredible view of the city below, are one of the main reasons I love Kobe.

Nunobiki Herb Garden & Ropeway

Nunobiki Falls

A view of the city and port from above

The Sea
Of course, Kobe Bay offers the second route of escape from the city. Although it is a busy port area, it is still incredibly soothing to be able to sit by the bay, look out over the sea and enjoy the sea breeze. Meriken Park offers an area where you can relax, have a picnic and enjoy being beside the seaside on a sunny day. There are also some worthwhile places to visit in the port area, including the Earthquake Memorial Park, Kobe Port Tower, and Kobe Maritime Museum.

A view out into the bay

A glimpse of the great destruction caused by the Great Hanshin-Awaji earthquake

Earthquake memorial park with Kobe Maritime Museum and Kobe Port Tower in the background

The City
Not only does Kobe have a wonderful location, between the mountains and the sea: the town itself is also quite stylish and well looked after. The first time I visited Kobe, I walked from Sannomiya station towards the sea, via Flower Road, which very much lives up to its name, being decorated not only with beautiful flower beds, but also sculptures and fountains. Kobe seems to take pride in its appearance, which makes walking through the city a more pleasant experience for both tourists and residents alike.

Flower road, living up to its name

A fountain on Flower Road

The tree-lined road viewed from above

The Vibe
I'm not sure if it's the mediterranean sensation of walking along the waterfront, or the tree-lined avenues, but I feel like Kobe has much more of a laid-back, continental vibe than some other cities in the area. 

On my first visit to Kobe, I came across a farmers' market, an initiative by Eat Local Kobe. Saturday morning markets selling fresh local produce abound in Europe, but I hadn't come across something like this in Japan previously. It was a joy to find this busy little market, with visitors enjoying the variety of edible offerings from local producers.

The Kitano area in Kobe, where foreign merchants historically settled, also has a very European air to it - plus lots of continental-inspired cafes and restaurants to go with it.

Weathercock House, Kitano

Statue of a saxophone player

These are just some of the reasons why I love Kobe. There are of course many other reasons to visit Kobe: from the famous Kobe beef to the historic sake district, from Arima onsen to the longest suspension bridge in the worldWhatever your interests, be it food, nature or culture, there's much to explore in Kobe. It's such a relaxed and liveable city, that I really hope I can spend more time there in the future.

What do you like best about Kobe?


  1. Kobe sounds lovely. We've got a day trip planned here from Osaka. I really want to visit the gardens and go on the cable car. Plus I want to have a Kobe beef burger :)

    1. Of course, Kobe beef is a must :) Depending on how much flexibility you have in your itinerary, definitely try and go on a fine day, as there's so much to do outdoors in Kobe that it would be a shame to go on a rainy day. I was lucky enough to go on two sunny days!